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Colorado bill exempts ‘cottage food’ chicken from safety checks

A new cottage food bill exempting Colorado small poultry producers from inspections — including safety inspections — is moving forward, having passed the state Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 16-058, now before the House, also amends the Colorado Cottage Foods Act to exempt home kitchens from food inspections, as long as their sales don’t exceed $10,000 annually. It promises Colorado citizens “unimpeded access to healthy food from known sources.”

COstateCap_406x250At the heart of the bill is the concept of “informed end consumers.”

“Informed end consumer means a person who is the last person to purchase any product, who does not resell the product, and who has been informed that the product is not licensed, regulated or inspected,” according to the bill.

The inspection exemption is tied to individual producers’ sales so that a home kitchen or commercial, private or public kitchen may be exempt from inspection as long as sales are made to  “informed end consumers.” The producer is permitted to sell foods produced, processed, or packaged that are “not hazardous” and that do not require refrigeration.

Examples of permitted foods are pickled vegetables, spices, teas, dehydrated produced, nuts, seeds, honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter, flour and backed foods including candies, fruit expands, tortillas and “other non potentially hazardous foods.” Sales of 250 dozen eggs per month are permitted.

The bill encourages the exempted food producers to take food safety courses. Each exempted producer is also allowed to have a “designated representative.”

The Commissioner of Agriculture is empowered to develop “reasonable rules” on standards, labeling, operations and record keeping.

Small chicken producers will be allowed to sell directly to the public. Their sales are limited to in-state sales. They are specifically prohibited from moving any product in interstate commerce. Both processing facilities and the small poultry producers themselves are relied on to obtain licenses.

Small poultry producers would not be allowed to sell to food establishments until after a stakeholders process is conducted by the Commission of Agriculture. The bill calls for the first stakeholders process to get underway no later than July 1.

Most states with cottage food laws adopted them after 2010. The majority of them established exemptions from food safety laws and regulations with officials citing economic development strategies.

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